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Advice for those looking for “long term” — because hookups are pretty risky right now


Dr. Lovegood ’69, Specialist in All Things Amorous

Hello lovelies, I hope you all are faring well through the first few weeks of this strange but lively semester. I’ve been getting a few questions in my office hours about how to tell if someone is worth “popping your bubble” for. Getting involved with another student romantically is more risky with the eternally-present virus looming over us. So, it makes sense to be extra selective about who you’re going to go on a real date with or let into your personal space. “But how,” you may ask, “in the midst of a global pandemic, face masks and hormones am I supposed to decide if they are worth it?” In my experience, the real issue at stake when asking if someone will be worth your time is your compatibility. Here are some categories I highly recommend considering before reaching out to pop your bubble in the hopes of something more than a fling:

1: Are we emotionally compatible?

Although this category is more likely to harbor surprises (i.e. you date for a month before realizing that they have a crippling Reddit addiction), it’s the easiest one to figure out without risk. Something my Aunt Vera always said, “If he can’t make you cry from laughing or make you laugh when you’re crying, he’s not for you.” You can tell a lot about how well your senses of humor, emotional needs and communication styles mesh before taking any physical risks by simply having caf dates, coffees from the Cage, chats outdoors, shared homework time, etc. At this stage, you can start to read whether you’re potential lovers, or maybe just friends, without risking the Rona.

2: Would we be physically compatible?

This is a trickier one to be completely sure about, but what is romance without some level of mystery? Obviously, if you aren’t attracted to someone physically, you probably shouldn’t date them. However, in some cases a combination of personality and physical attraction will make someone pretty darn appealing. There’s also the question of expectations. Do they expect sex early in a relationship? Will they be severely disappointed if that doesn’t happen? This is a question of communication. It is most crucial, however, to never feel constrained by how attractive your friends find someone you like! They aren’t going to be the ones kissing them or spending long hours gazing into their eyes, and if they are, you have some other issues you might want to address. If they are to your liking, that’s enough.

3: Other major logistics:

Imagine a world where there’s no COVID, no crazy class schedules, no preordained practice room slots, no 10 hours of Bon App shifts every weekend. Sadly, this is not the campus world we currently live on. So here’s the question, do you actually have time for each other? You might find that even with less rehearsals and orgs, you still don’t have the time or energy to be in a relationship. Beyond that, there’s consideration of age difference, which can feel surprisingly steep when you’re a sophomore and they’re a senior. And don’t forget issues of spiritual compatibility, life philosophies and lifestyle differences.

At the end of the day, having a significant other to be there for you is a lovely, wonderful thing. But in the beginning it can be hard to tell who is worth a shot, especially with all the masks! The most important thing is to know your deal breakers. Not your friends’, not your parents’, but your personal deal-breakers. Be honest with yourself about what is and is not acceptable to you in a committed relationship and be sure to think long and hard before deciding to let any of these ideals go for the sake of giving that special someone a chance.